Wellington Independent FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1871.
Mr Parker took his seat yesterday as member for Motueka in the place of Sir D. Monro, unseated upon petition. It had not been our intention to refer further to the subject of this petition, and the proceedings of the committee appointed to investigate the case, other than in a general way, as supplement- | ing our last article. The view, however, taken by the Opposition, and authoritatively expressed by its organ last night, leaves us no choice, and we shall proceed with little comment to place the ' whole facts before the public. Sir David Monro was returned for Motueka by the casting vote of the Returning Officer, who also, according to his own evidence, acted throughout as an- active canvasser upon his behalf, and was good enough further to take upon himself the duties of Revising Officer, and purify the roll according, no doubt, to his conviction of right. Mr Charles Parker, a worthy good man, if not nouveau riclie and decore, had reason to suppose that all was not quite on the square, and accordingly instituted enquiries, which resulted in the confirmation of his suspicions so far as to afford a.prima facie case of bribery under the act, and two decided cases of personation. Ho accordingly, in due course of law, lodged a petition setting forth the several allegations above mentioned. Parliament met. "With as little delay as possible, an Election Committee was appointed in accordance with the Statute. As there would appear to be much misapprehen sion in this matter, it may not be out of place to set forth briefly the constitution of this committee. In the first place the sitting member and the petitioner each nominates a member. Mr Gillies in this instance was nominated by Sir David Monro, and Mr Bunny by Mr Parker. Mr Travers, on behalf of Sir David, and Mr Bunny upon the other side, next proceeded tostrike names off the Roll of the House until only four were left ; this clearly gave an opportunity to both parties to secure the exclusion of violent partizans, which we may take for granted was judiciously taken advantage of Air Studholrne, Mr Pearce, Mr Fitzherbert, and Mr M'Gillivray were the happy four, and fully justified by their conduct in committee their character for impartial judgment which induced their selection. The committee was then completed by the appointment of Mr Brandon, a3 Chairman, by the Speaker. It will not be necessary after our lengthy reports to comment upon the proceedings in detail ; we shall rather confine ourselves to a general review of the nature of the evidence brought forward, and the conduct of the committee, individually and collectively. It was clear from the very first day that the petitioner labored under the great disadvantage of a partisan chairman. Mr Brandon acted throughout, not as equitably holding an important trust, specially sworn to maintain the even I balance of justice, and from his special knowledge as a lawyer to keep the committee safe from the dangers of L'gal quibbles by the opposing counsel; Mr Brandon, so far from thu3 comporting himself, throughout the enquiry, was the earnest advocate of the silting member, continually suggesting points to his counsel and throwing every difficulty in the way of arriving afc conclusions upon any subject upon which it seemed requisite that an opinion should be recorded. Now that the matter is decided we do not hesitate to say thai the conduct of the Chairman prolonged the enquiry for many days, and that his undisguised partizanship received and merited the severe condemnation of all those who were present during the proceedings. We will go further, and allege, without fear of contradiction, that had " the boot been on the oiher leg" — Parker the sitting member, and .Sir David the petitioner, the matter would have been decided in two days, so clear and perspicuous was the evidence. No doubt honorable members had twinges of conscience, and, when it was proved to them that Monro 'a agent carted down twelve Germans, at 16s a head, to record their free and independent votes, threw back upou their own little electioneering ladies, and applied the rule of equity, and not of law, to the reading of the statute. They erred upon the side of mercy, and we blame
ihem not, but we would suggest for their consideration that such practices, now, to a certain extent, authorised, place great power in the hands of the wealthy, and in country districts render the election of men, even of moderate means, impossible under ordinary circumstances. However, let sleeping dogs lie, and we should have been very sorry to see a man of Sir David Monro's character and services stigmatised with the cornmissLn of an offence of which there is not even a shadow of suspicion that he was morally guilty. The committee next went into the question of personation, and it was clearly proved that one Hagen voted in the name and upon the qualification of his deceased father, and that a certain Tomlinson voted in the name and upon the qualification of another Tomlinson, his namesake and cousin. For some extraordinary and unknown reason the committee allowed this latter vote to stand, but Hagen voting two years after his death was an extension of political privileges they were not prepared to endorse, so this vote was most properly struck out. Mr Tr avers endeavored to equalise this by, at a vast expense of time and money, obtaining witnesses to prove that one Starnes had voted after 4 p.m. for Mr Parker. It seems that close upon 4 p.m he was observed coming to the booth, and was frantically urged on to haste by the Deputy Returning Officer and both scrutineers, admitted, and, in contravention of all law, asked how he was going to vote. " For Parker," he said ; and before the impartial electoral officer had recovered the shock, vote he did. The clock in the booth appears, however, to have been especially favored, as the officer swore before the committee, and was bached by Sir David's scrutineer, that when the vote was actually recorded it was half a minute pnst four. We should like to be informed in what manner the astronomical fact was arrived at, but for tho nonce pass it over as one of the peculiarites of Nelson electoral economies. The committee, in accordance with all precedent and with common sense, ruled that as the voter had entered the booth before four, and was delayed, if ! at all, by the impertinent questions of the Returning Officer, his vote should hold good. Sir David, therefore, was adjudged defeated by a majority of one, and Mr Parker elected. So far from the composition of the committee in any way justifying the assumption of its influencing the decision in favor of Mr Pnrker, a criticism of the minutes, the whole of which will in due course be published, leads us to the very opposite conclusion. The bias very naturally was in favor of the sitting member, and nothing but the stern logic of facts could have induced the arrival at a verdict so painful individually, we are sure, to every member of that committee.
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Wellington Independent FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1871., Wellington Independent, Volume XXVI, Issue 3309, 22 September 1871
Wellington Independent FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1871. Wellington Independent, Volume XXVI, Issue 3309, 22 September 1871
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